Love With Black Spots
Sep 9, 2022
Oscar Wenman-Hyde, Jade Wenman-Hyde
Oli Harding, Saffron Walters, Bailey Dowler
As we grow up, certain things which once seemed like the biggest deal in the world fade into the background, and become minor inconveniences. It is a fact of life. ‘Love With Black Spots’ is a film built in the same vein, dealing with something which would have seemed like the biggest problem in the world at age fourteen, but for anyone older seems like nothing. The problem is that the protagonists of this film are both in their 20s - they no longer have that excuse of naivety.
A couple has moved into their new house, as we understand thanks to the shot of boxes being carried up to the door’s peephole, which gives director Oscar Wenman-Hyde the chance to play around, with an intriguing shot from the angle. Wenmam-Hyde’s direction is competent throughout, at times exceeding that solid baseline, and as such, it stands as the only stable component of an otherwise cringe-worthy and childish film.
The couple, Jack (Oli Harding) and Isla (Saffron Walters) are clearly discordant, throwing little niggles and bites at each other, with little nuggets of other failings in their relationship thrown into the script (for example, the fact that Jack never viewed the house before moving in). At this stage the script, penned by Oscar and Jade Wenman-Hyde, appears slight, giving us critical information subconsciously in a very natural way - all is looking good. However, things quickly fall apart after the couple christen their new house and discover the main issue of the film, and the inspiration behind its title - a ladybug infestation.
To any ordinary grown adult this would be no big deal, you either go around exterminating them, remove them, or hire an exterminator to deal with the problem. However, for Jack and Isla this only strains their relationship further, and they grow apart - if they hardly seemed to know each other before then they’re worse than strangers now. This could, emphasis on could, have possibly worked had the script continued to be at least functional. Instead, in an attempt to present the two as distant, the script creates a wall between them, and the dialogue becomes turgid, painting the actors in an extremely negative light. That’s not to say that none of the film’s shortcomings falls to the responsibility of the actors - who lack any semblance of chemistry, which becomes a bigger issue at the turning point of the film.
The turning point is so ridiculous, yet so innocuous that you wouldn’t even realise it unless you’d read the synopsis beforehand. The relationship between Jack and Isla hinges on Jack accidentally swallowing a ladybug, an incident with no dramatic effect whatsoever, and which is incredibly forgettable. Supposedly as a result of the ladybug, the couple becomes all loved up again. The sentence doesn’t need a follow-up to explain the illogicality of the premise.
It’s around that point where the film truly begins to fall into tatters, as Isla becomes thoroughly unlikeable and their relationship progresses without ever showing us any real signs of true affection between the two. Also synonymous with bad teenage dramas of the same ilk is the trope of the ‘gay best friend’, in this instance, a character played by Bailey Dowler called Red, because he’s ginger - a sign of the attention afforded to this character.
This is just another example of ‘Love with Black Spots’ taking the worst parts of 00s teen movies and moulding them into a short film with adults as its protagonists. In the end, despite a promising start, ‘Love with Black Spots’ ends up falling into the tropes and pitfalls of a genre that it shouldn’t even fall into.